Food Fight!!! Eagle vs. Blue heron

Eagle vs. HeronEagle vs. Heron
  • Eagle vs. Heron

Food Fight!  Eagle vs. Blue Heron at Conowingo Dam

This was cool.  A juvenile Bald Eagle was happily yanking out the innards of a tasty fish when a very hungry Blue Heron decided he needed that fish more than that eagle.  Food Fight!  Fish guts and feathers are flying!

These birds were far way at the waterline of a man-made island below the infamous Conowingo Dam in Maryland.  Sorry for the poor quality, but I took these at maximum aperture, with a teleconverter, and are at 100% crop to pull them in.

Conowingo Dam for Eagles

This place is just an amazing destination for Bald Eagles, Black Vultures, Blue Herons, and Gulls.  Conowingo dam is a power generation dam across the Susquehanna River in Maryland just off of I95 and near the mouth of the river where it dumps into the Chesapeake Bay.  U.S. Route 1 runs right over the top of this dam that was built in 1928.  Birder Brains tell me this one of the best place to see Eagles in the lower 48 states during the winter time with November and December being the peak months.  I have been there in November saw well over 100 Bald Eagles just hanging out and decorating the rocks below the dam.  Just wow.

I think Conowingo is almost as good for viewing Birder Brains as it is for viewing Eagles.  If you go during peak Eagle time, you will witness a forest of lens lumber pointing out over the river.  Boy, you gotta be packing some serious hardwood glass if you are going to hang with these folks.  Besides swinging some serious length, Birder Brains like to wear camo.  I am not sure why they wear camo as they are all lined up along a fence next to a parking lot.  I think looking like a small Buick or a Prius would be a more appropriate disguise than looking like a forest grove, but hey, I am just an amateur and still learning.

To be fair, you do need some serious length if you are going be effective at bringing ‘em in at Conowingo.  So I zipped down to the dam in February, whipped out my hefty Canon 500mm L f/4.0 IS lens, screwed on my Canon EF 1.4x II extender (aka a teleconverter) for maximum magnification, and mounted my Canon 5D Mk II body.  This gave me 700mm, yes count ‘em, 700 massive millimeters of Japanese hardwood lens.  Yea baby, I’m going Eagle hunting!

More of my eagle posts:

I don’t like Teleconverters

A teleconverter is a set of lens elements that are inserted between your lens and camera body to give extra magnification.  I’ve read quite a bit about them and many really like them and feel they do not degrade picture quality much especially if you use them with a high quality lens.  For me they just don’t work well and I know my comments here are controversial as others don’t feel this way.  I must be doing something wrong.

You see, I’ve found that to get really sharp pictures, you need to stop down your aperture a few clicks to get the most out of any lens.  When you add a teleconverter, you lose a stop or two so now when you stop it down a click or two to improve sharpness, you really lost quite a bit of light.  When I shot these Eagle fight pictures, the sun was setting so I didn’t have much light to start with and because the birds were so far away and active, I requiring a fast shutter speed to stop the action.  I settled on an ISO of 400 which I feel is about as high as I like to go with my 5D Mk II especially when I am cropping down so far.  Cropping to 100% will show any problems with picture quality like lack of sharpness and noise.  That is why these pics are just not the greatest resolution.  Maybe I did something wrong and should have stopped the aperture down more and boosted the ISO to say 1600, but I didn’t do that, got poor results, and therefore will continue to experiment with different settings and learn.  Folks do take great photos using teleconverters so I will keep on working at it.

When I looked at these photos on my computer, I was disappointed with their quality but I still loved the bird food fight, so here they are.  By the way, the Eagle lost.  Lost to a Blue Heron.  Maybe this was just a wimp of an Eagle, but really, the other Eagles should give this guy some fighting tips.  I mean losing to a lanky, goofy Blue Heron of all birds.  Shame.

The Equipment:

  • Canon 5D Mk II
  • Canon 500mm IS f/4
  • Canon 1.4x teleconverter
  • Gitzo tripod with Wimberly head

Location Types: Conowingo Dam. Galleries: Birds and Eagle. Tags: 500mm and teleconverter.

One Response to “Food Fight!!! Eagle vs. Blue heron”

  1. Donna September 2, 2012 5:07 pm #

    Seriously, Bruce, this is way cool!! I am passing it on to my somewhat birder brained husband and kids.

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